(LEELANAU PENINSULA, Mich) - Be awed and inspired this harvest season with the intricate artwork demonstrations by custom pumpkin carver Pat Harrison - the self-proclaimed "Lord of the Gourd." Harrison, who hails from Allegan County and currently resides on the Leelanau Peninsula, showcases his creative carving skills at throughout the state in the coming months. The schedule is below.
"It all started more than a dozen years ago in Oakland County at Oakhaven Farm near Holly where Nick and Pam Nichols saw what I did and asked if I'd be interested in carving at their farm on weekends.it just grew from there,"
Harrison is making autumn rounds throughout Michigan, transforming pumpkins and gourds into intricate decorations, while also entertaining his crowd by providing musical entertainment via harmonica.
"Everything I carve, I do freehand. I prefer to make it up as I go along," says Harrison. "If you try to make it look like something, sometimes you end up fighting the pumpkin instead of doing what feels naturally. I'll start with a pair of eyes and just take it from there."
Much of his free time is spent driving around seeking the perfect pumpkin for sculpting. "The more unusual the shape, the better," he says. "Sometimes I can already see what the pumpkin has to be when I see the shape."
During the course of the day, Harrison can create as many as 10 works of art, depending on the size of the pumpkin and the level of interaction with his audience. Sometimes he carves whole pumpkins and sometimes they are hollowed out, so that they can be illuminated. Each offers a very different overall look to the finished project.
Because of the sharp tools, he's careful not to rush his projects. "Safety has to come first.I consider it a successful day if I still have 10 fingers at the end of the day!" Harrison says his tools are very basic and include an Exacto blade, penknife, paring knife and clay carving chisels used to clean up the edges. "I actually got my two favorite knives at garage sales!"
"People ask so many interesting questions and also the basics like 'How long does it last?' or 'Where do you get your ideas,'" says Harrison, who jokes that his designs are not borrowed from Martha Stewart.
To read more about the Lord of the Gourd, check out this article by Promote Michigan's Dianna Stampfler, which appeared in the fall 2011 issue of Michigan HOME & Lifestyle Magazine: www.promotemichigan.com/_img/Lord%20of%20the%20Gourd.pdf
LORD OF THE GOURD 2012 CARVING SCHEDULE
Oct 17 Kalamazoo Library (2-7pm)
Oct 18 Allegan Library (1-5pm)
Oct 21 Robinette's Cider Mill in Grand Rapids (Noon-5pm)